Over 500 staff members packed into the pews of Battell Chapel Tuesday morning for a town hall convened by President-elect Peter Salovey, who answered questions on staff development and acknowledged concerns he plans to address as president.
Salovey, who will assume the presidency on June 30, opened the meeting by discussing his intention to create a more unified, innovative, accessible and excellent Yale — four goals he first outlined in his Nov. 8 speech delivered after the Yale Corporation announced that he willsucceed current University President Richard Levin. During the town hall, he noted his plans to respond to concerns by ensuring the staff feels integrated with other segments of the University, continuing to improve the University’s relationship with local merchants and creating opportunities for upward mobility for current staff members.
“I know we have an excellent staff here, but I want Yale to be more than just a job for you,” Salovey said. “I want it to be a career path.”
Salovey said he already reviewed over 20,000 comments from a workplace survey issued to staff in November, adding that a theme central to the survey’s responses was a general desire for the prospect of a more substantial career trajectory at Yale. He explained several ways he hopes to create a more career-oriented environment for staff, such as rewarding staff innovation with promotions and filling vacant positions with internal candidates instead of individuals from outside the University.
Creating a more career-oriented environment for staff would require supervisors to be more flexible in encouraging staff members to change jobs within the University, he said, as well as allowing them to feel that they can branch out beyond their initial area of expertise.
Salovey also said he understands that staff are concerned about unity, both within the staff body and between staff members and the rest of the University.
“I think we have far too many divisions — we talk much too much about main campus and the medical school. We talk much too much about Science Hill versus central campus,” Salovey told the audience. “All of that isn’t very meaningful. We’re all serving a greater university with a shared sense of mission.”
Salovey discussed ways in which he would promote innovation throughout the entire University, including building the science and engineering programs “to the level of excellence that Yale has historically had, and will continue to have, in the humanities and in the arts.”
He also cited Yale’s partnership with the National University of Singapore in the creation of Yale-NUS as an example of the University’s bringing innovations in liberal arts education to the global community.
Four staff members interviewed said they enjoyed hearing Salovey’s plans for the upcoming academic year firsthand.
Davenport College Operations Manager Carolyn Haller said she hopes Salovey acts on his words about staff unity soon after he enters office.
“We used to be a family, but because of the economy and policies, I believe there’s friction,” Haller said.
Silliman College Operations Manager KC Mills called herself “a cheerleader” for Salovey, and said she believes the staff as a community has the responsibility to share their concerns with him.
Salovey announced the town hall in an email to staff on Jan. 16.